Pic: miamarionette.com

Now I control my own money, I can trick myself into thinking I can afford things

I remember a day, not too long ago, when I shopped with gay abandon, caring not about price tags or budgets. Okay, so it was rather long ago – I was five. I quickly learned, through grabby trial and error, that money meant something, at least to my parents, and that there were certain things that were out of my reach. 

As I’ve grown older, this hasn’t really changed – except that, now that I control my own money, I can occasionally trick myself into thinking I can afford things. Take, for example, those Valentino shoes I yearned after; or those Alexander Wang boots I bought myself. (It is no coincidence, incidentally, that the big-ticket items I lust after are accessories: they always, always fit, even after a weekend of gorging at the Twelve Hotel.)

But the truth is: I can’t. I am, after all, a lowly journalist whose last payment is an indeterminate length of time away from her next.

What happens when you throw caution to the wind and begin to shop from high to low?

The result of which? When I shop, I do so in a concise and measured fashion. I go online (no sweaty changing-rooms – and would someone please invent mirrors that switch on ONLY when I am ready to see myself beneath the blinking strip lights?) and, on handy sites such as Asos, I switch the maximum amount I want to spend to €200 – y’know, in case I see an incredible leather bag or a “good winter coat” (direct quote from mother). On Net-a-Porter and My-Wardrobe.com, I sort the items I see in order of price, low-high. When it gets to €200, I stop looking.

So what happens when you throw caution to the wind? When you set your lasers to stun and begin to shop from high to low, from most expensive to least, with no budget? Ever the intrepid Nancy Drew, I went handbag shopping to find out:

The row cutch bag

On Net-a-Porter, “the thinking woman’s luxury fashion site”*, you get this: The Row’s metal-framed lizard clutch, a €4,868 22x15cm box clutch made of black lizard skin and lined with lamb’s leather (and, presumably, gold). It looks quite office-appropriate to me, but it wouldn’t fit my Filofax, so I moved on.

Michael Kors handbag

The next horrifying moment was courtesy of My-Wardrobe.com, where I realised that Michael Kors – which, lest you forget, I fairly loathe – was attempting to sell us a handbag for €1,340.70, in “textured leather” with “studded side panels” in the unappetising shade of “elephant grey”. Ick.

Zadig and Voltaire bag

The selection at Asos is slightly more reasonable, but no less vile, with this Zadig & Voltaire “rock leather bag” coming in at a cool €550.56. In case you care, despite the description and the price, this is actually made of “leather-look fabric”, which is handy if you’re a member of PETA or just have no taste.

Botega Veneta handbag

Just as I was beginning to worry that luxury items were no longer, well, that luxurious, Matches came to the rescue with this €22,000 Bottega Veneta crocodile tote bag. And y’know what else? Props to Matches for rounding up. I’m sick of sites converting to euro at a stupidly unrealistic rate and then insulting me further by tacking 70 cent on to the end of the price.

According to Matches (Colleen Rooney’s a big fan of the boutique, by the way, which makes me really warm to it – no, that’s not a joke, I love CR), this tote is “beautiful… and genuinely functional”. Now, Matches: really? Am I going to bring that bag to pick my kids up from school? On a weekend trip to the country? Unlikely, especially as it costs approximately 45 times as much as my car.

The row backpack

Finally, because I have reached lottery-dream fatigue and now yearn to go and actually buy something, Farfetch comes out on top with this €39,550 crocodile backpack by The Row.

You’d think those Olsen twins, rich since they were about three years old, would think about making life easier for poor people – but no, they insist on designing only for the super-rich. Well, if you’re super-rich, need a backpack, and want that to be leather and worth two years’ rent, look no further!

*Okay, I totally made that up.